12k in +12!

My buddies Afton and Janelle cannot always make it to Saturday morning long runs, so this weekend we headed out on Subday afternoon at 2:00 from Eau Claire. We were rewarded by 12* Celsius!!!! It was lovely. Except no one brought enough water, as we did not expect this warmth.

But we all made it. And Janelle, Afton, and Sarah ran their longest run yet – 12.5k! It was awesome, and we all finished – vertically!!

Congrats ladies!


so many things on the calendar this year – maybe too many things?

in my post “what’s next?” I listed several different races/goals/etc I was pondering.

ponder. ponder. ponder.

and then i suddenly found myself registering for all 5 of the 5 Peaks series in Southern/Central AB. I am now signed up for 4 x 10k trails races and 1 x 21k trail race (May, June, July, August, September). Given that I have never run more than ~2k on a trail, this is definitely a “Go Big or Go Home” challenge for me this summer. I am also registered for the Calgary Half Marathon (May 27). the hubby and i are also considering a 3-day bicycle tour through the mountains. i am still “thinking” about other things I want to do, but I’m not signing up for anything because it’s starting to sound hectic.

i’ve also decided to join the Walk to Fight Arthritis Committee! I’m going to be the committee chair.  should be interesting – i’ll meet new people, and continue helping a cause that means something to me personally. Win-win!


So, yes, 2012 is going to be busy. But fun. And that’s what it is all about!


Update from the islands!

Now that I am finally in Relaxation Mode, I can share The Experience!

Friday, Dec 9: Get in a mini 2k run to keep up my running streak. Drive hubby to the airport. Be stressed out. Get a ride to the airport. Meet my Joints in Motion coordinator, Elisha, at the Calgary Airport to send me off! On the other side of security, meet 5 JIM participants from Saskatchewan and Manitoba – very cool to meet new people!    Finally arrive in Honolulu after 10pm local (1am Alberta time!)

Saturday, Dec 10: Wake up to sunshine and a relaxing ocean breeze. Meet the JIM team for a walk.   Eat some breakfast. Have a quick dip in the ocean. Meet Jamie & Minako for a light run. Head to the Marathon Expo to pick up chip & bib. I was really looking forward to the Expo… Unfortunately due to the high (as in 75%) Japanese participation in the Marathon – EVERYTHING was in Japanese! I did manage to find a pair of my Adizero Bostons in my size for $60, and a sweet Honolulu Marathon shirt though, so all was not lost 🙂    In the evening, the JIM team headed to the Honolulu Zoo to check out the animals and have a pasta party! We also heard some inspiring and motivational chats from the National Event Manager and from one of my fellow participants living with Osteo-arthritis… Yep, I think about half of the participants actually live with Arthritis everyday. I did not realize that until we all finally met in person in Honolulu; quite frankly, that changed the game for me. The marathon very suddenly seemed a hell of a lot easier. Although quite a few people walked the 42km, it still seemed a little easier for ME to run it!

Sunday, Dec 11: RACE DAY! We get our wake-up calls at 2:45am; which was fine because I was wide awake at 2:40am after a surprisingly restful sleep! We hopped on our shuttle at 3:45 and headed to the start line. Whoa. Not only have I never seen so many people in my entire life, I have also never seen that many port-o-potties! They sure had our bodily functions covered! And for me, a new milestone – i did not have to nervous pee! Now… to find Jamie, Minako, and Wayne amidst 20,000 people… I actually did. On my way I did manage to roll my ankle though – sweet. And as soon as I found Jamie I balled my eyes out for 30 secs, tried to tell him I was stressed out – but apparently I did not speak any english – and then I just ran away to find my JIM team. At the time, I was a complete wreck – looking back, hahaha it’s pretty amusing.  Before I knew it, the fireworks went off – this marathon is very geared to their Japanese participants, this FIREWORKS! 15min later, it was my turn to go through the official gate – I was starting the marathon!


km’s 1-10: i started the race with Sue – the JIM coach from Toronto. She is super nice, and quite funny. John, she would fit in perfectly with our Calgary gang! the first 10k were so easy… I ran 20min, no break, and felt like I had barely run at all. I felt the sea-level oxygen. There were so many people – we were constantly weaving in and out of slower runners. THe energy of the race was fantastic. This part of the route was through the commercial/downtown part of Waikiki, completely in the dark… Lots of Christmas lights!

km’s 10-20: my pace, nutrition, and hydration have been spot-on. I still feel great.Around the 10k mark, we run up Diamond Head (local crater)…Compared to some of the hills at home (Edworthy, Blood & Guts, 69th Street), this hill is EASY!  Sue is still running with me! It makes a HUGE difference to have a running buddy. The sun is starting to rise. Much to our surprise, the crowd is still massive… there has been no break in the flow of people.the entire race, we have been passing people. Approximately 13k, we see the first place marathoners heading in the opposite direction! We are only at km 13 or so, and they are around km25-30!!

km’s 20-25: Japanese runners are addicted to some kind of A535 spray. Along with aid stations with water and gatorade, there are these “spray stations”. Sue gets sprayed – by accident, due to a breeze and the massive spraying going on at the sidelines. YUCK!  I still feel surprisingly good. The massive crowds and people have not subsided. We are on the longest straight-away on the planet! This straight piece of highway is BRUTAL.

km’s 25-30: Sue and I discuss what I can expect for my last 12k. At 27k, Sue breaks off to go find the JIM Walkers… BYE Sue! Ok, now I am on my own. I feel ok… Just a little tired. Now I need to figure out my iPhone to get some tunes goin’…I think it took me 10mins to finally get music going hah. I am still on the longest straightaway EVER.

km’s 30-35: Still on the shitty straightaway. I forgot to mention there was a loop in the middle of the straightaway, I think it was 7k straight, 5k loop, 7k straight. Ummm… Did I just pass the 35k mark? Uh, yeah, I did. This is the farthest I’ve ever run! And I’m beginning to hurt! Joints and muscles are starting to stiffen… Up until this point, my pace was incredibly consistent… and it was suddenly broken by this evil 35km point. But this evil 35km point also means I only have 7.2k left. 7.2k. that’s all. THAT IS LESS THAN 10k!

km 35-40: Involved a few extra long walk breaks. Also a sponge. It was getting warmer as the day progressed. It was getting warmer, and I was getting a little slower. At this point, I begin preparing myself mentally that it may take me 6hours to finish. This is ok… Because no matter what I’m going to finish. I notice all the people around me are also slowing down a wee bit. These 5k i just focused to “keep going”. I drank water, ate electrolytes. keep going. keep going. so close. these 5k also included the climb back up Diamond Head cater.A relatively easy hill, but because of how far I’d run… it sucked. More walking.

km 40/41: I have summitted Diamond Head. I only need to grin and bear it for 2more km’s. and it’s downhill and then flat. downhill and then flat. so close. keep going. downhill and then flat. keep going. so close. i realize my time is going to be right on the money – a strange feeling.

km 41/42.2: so many people. only 1km left. where is the finish. only 1km left. the crowd is so much bigger. a loooong finishing chute with A LOT of spectators. i take out my headphones so i can hear the crowd. i start to cry – but i gather myself. then i realize – how on earth is jamie going to find me? regardless, i am going to try and smile at the finish. i see the finish. less than 500metres to go. focus. finish. focus. finish. smile. smile. 100m – there is no sprinting. i have used all my energy. smile. focus. finish. approaching the finish line…. raise my arms! I think I’m smiling! I don’t know what’s going on because all I know is I FINISHED! Now where? Oh… and here is a little emotion again… but not too much because I am so exhausted. Oh, my Finishers Shell necklace is suddnely being placed over my head. I am still in a runners only section… trying to figure out where to go. Ok, I am out of the finishers section. I see my JIM team, get checked in… Now all I care about is finding Jamie! I call him, turns out he was standing beside my JIM team. Haha. Hugs. And then I cry in his shoulder again.

I did it.

Next stop: water, finisher’s t-shirt, and THE BEST DONUT I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Made ON-SITE!

THe experience was not at all what I expected. I thought I would struggle significantly more, and earlier. But I didn’t. I trained right, I ate right, I took it easy. Just like John taught me.

I did it. John and all my supporters, thank you.

6 sleeps to 42k!

November and December have been unbelievably exciting months. I reached my fundraising goal and I finished my long runs! All that remains is the actual race!

On Saturday, Nov 19, I headed out for my last super long run. It was meant to be 36km. My very supportive hubby joined me to knock off 10k before I met the rest of the group. It was -20 or -31 with the windchill. I met the running group; most just did the standard “10k”. Adrian stuck around for 16k. And John, our amazing running coach and friend, ran the entire remaining 21k with me! Wow! That was one of those days where moral support is priceless. Thanks, John.

Running in a winter wind along a river is NOT fun. But we did it.

It was definitely a case of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In total throughout the run, I ended up indoors twice – once to meet the running group, and once for a pit-stop during the last 21km. Do you know what you are NOT supposed to do when you’re exercising in the cold? You’re not supposed to go indoors (thaw out) and then back outdoors (re-freeze). I managed to get frostbite on my big toe due to wet feet (my shoes are NOT winter running shoes), freezing, and then going indoors to partially thaw, and then go back outdoors to freeze again. Ok, so I got minor frostbite. No biggie. BUT WAIT – I then break MORE rules – I didn’t know how to treat frostbite… so I stuck my foot under the car heater and then proceeded to have the hottest shower of my life. I turned my frostbit toe into a nice burn. 3 weeks later and it is still tender and healing. Woops.

Anyway, I ran in -31, I got frostbite on my toe, and still knocked off 31km that morning. Therefore, in 6 sleeps I can totally run 42km in the beauty and warm temperatures of Hawaii. I CANNOT WAIT!

my secrets to marathon training – from a complete newbie who has absolutely no right to be giving out advice

*pre-cursor: this blog post is sharing my experience. I am not a personal trainer. I do not have a degree in kinesiology or nutrition. what I have is the experience of overcoming “couch potato” and becoming a runner. always consult a professional, like i dunno, A DOCTOR, before starting any new physical activity 🙂

ok, so we all know i am training for the killer 42.2k this december. i tell everyone because, well, i think it is pretty amazing. for those who knew me (like really knew me) several years ago, it was amazing if i got off the couch. in fact, when my hubby and i first started dating (10 years ago?) we filled out one of those couples books… there is a question on hobbies…. “Jamie likes to rollerblade. And Jen, well, we won’t go there.” Hah.

Anyway, here I am, 10 years later, putting in the time and, more importantly, the dedication to train for and run a marathon.

Everyone reacts differently when you share your little personal goal with them. Veteran runners say things like, “Good for you!” and welcome you with open arms to the lovely sub-culture that is running. A-type runners say, “What’s your expected finish time?” with a tone of  “I am awesome you’re not” in their voice. Non-runners (including fitness freaks who dislike running) say things like, “You’re crazy!”; “Wow!”; “You’re amazing!”. Many people ask me “How is training going?” or “How do you do it?” or say things like, “I wish I could do that…”    Well, peeps, anyone can run a marathon – as long as you want to!!

Which segues me perfectly into my first secret, which isn’t such a secret because I preach it to everyone any chance I get: running is ridiculously personal. Running, just like anything else that has to do with your body, is just that – YOUR body! I run at Jen’s Pace. I don’t run at Paula’s pace, Minako’s pace, Janelle’s pace, John’s pace (even though John will run at my pace), Darren’s pace, Matt’s pace…. You get my drift. There are people who are slower than me. There are PLENTY of people faster than me. At times, I wish I was faster… but then I remember, “Oh yeah, this is MY body, and it is just doing what it can.”  Every stride I take is for me – not anyone else – so who cares how fast or slow those other people are running! Some people are afraid to start running because you’re worried you won’t be fast enough. There is no such thing as “fast enough”… getting out there is enough!

Second secret: NO DIETING. When I say diet, I am not limiting that to Atkins, or Grapefruits, Low Carb, Jillian Michaels, Paul Plakas… I mean any form of restriction stemming from any reason other than “I just don’t feel like that today.”   I eat whatever the eff I want – for many reasons. The first and foremost, which goes back to secret #1, this is my body; no one else knows what my body needs more than me. “they say you should eat more fibre”; “they say you should eat more vegetables”; “they say you should not eat carbs after 6pm”… etc. Well who the hell are “they”, and what the hell can “they” possibly know about my body?  All those “shoulds” “they” spout off are based on either invalidated assumptions, or horrible, inaccurate, poorly run, studies producing statistics. Statistics are meant to mathematically categorize the mass population – stats should not give you friggin health advice! WHAT THE!!! I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. And for those who are like “Oh my god, I wish I could do that, then I could have Brownies and Ice cream for breakfast every day for the rest of my life”. I don’t do that. I have truly, honestly, with all my heart let go of all outside rules and restrictions – I have mostly muted that little voice in the back of your mind telling you what you should eat – trying to trump what you really want to eat… I can now hear my actual body signals (including wanting to eat something because my body needs Vitamin B or wanting something just because it’s yummy) … which has led me to, overall, eating a balanced diet that kinda looks like “Canada’s Food Guide for Runners”. I eat what I want, whenever I want, which, because I have ZERO outside influence confusing my bodies signals, has me craving salads, pastas, soups, crackers, chicken, cheese, spinach, fish, cranberries, chocolate, curry, pears, water, yams, orange juice, corn bran… the list could go on and on… but my point is i crave everything under the sun. now THAT is a sign of a good, healthy, natural diet.  (And come on, I’m making my body run 20k, 30k, 40k at a time – putting it through hell – for gods sake I BETTER EAT!!!)

Third secret: acknowledging you want it. You really have to want it to train for a marathon. Those long, brutal, training runs are only 50% physical – the other 50% is mental, “all in your head”. I constantly fight the desire to give up, and pack it in – the only thing that keeps me going is knowing I want it!

Fourth secret: tell EVERYONE & just do it. telling everyone is pretty inspiring, and it makes the goal feel more real… then get out and do it. change it from a “goal” to something you’re doing. stop just planning; stop just talking about it; stop saying “I’ll start tomorrow” and literally just do it. The more you think and hum & hah about it, the more time you have to talk yourself out of it.

So there you have it. That’s how I train for my marathon 🙂 Obviously there is a training plan and rest days and specific paces and run-types… but those aren’t secrets… anyone can read a training plan… the hard part is actually doing it!